The following is an opinion piece written by Aleksey Kunyavsky Royt. Aleksey asks players to enjoy the game, stop bashing others, and support our local paintball stores. Sounds easy enough on paper, but is it too tall an order for todays new paintball players? Sound off in the comments below!
Chapter 1: Introduction
I wanted to write an article on my thoughts as pertains to the paintball industry at it is right now. I would like to start out by stating the obvious, paintball has fallen quite a ways from where it once was (in the GLORIOUS days of 10man PSP) for those of you who remember such shenanigans. Paintball has become less of a sport, and more of a High School type of environment. Players now-a-days, humble as they may seem, are spoiled down to the root. Hence the name of the article being “Grassroots”. Why that name? Because the root of a stem of grass is the single, and most basic organism I can think of. That’s where paintball needs to go right now, back to the basics. Within the chapters of this article you will find some truths about the industry’s faults as they stand right now. If you enjoy the sports persona as it is now, please close this now and never open it back up again, for those of you who are even remotely interested, enjoy. To understand my point of you, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I started paintballing in early 1999 when I was just 8 years old. My first time playing was in a small patch of woods in Prepyat, Ukraine. My dad loved paintball, so by the time I was ready to play. I was up to date on all the modern terminology at the time. Paintball has always been a outlet for me to express happiness, anger, and frustration. My father dragged me into the woods on my 8th birthday, it was shortly after I received the news we would soon be moving out of the country to Sweden. We played all day, and I didn’t think about moving once. I was hooked. For 3 years I played with my dad’s old 1998 WGP Sniper 2. When we lived in Sweden, at age 10… I had finally saved enough money from helping at my uncle’s deli to buy my own gun. 3 years of saving, and there was my beautiful WGP Angel Dark LCD. Its been paintball every weekend ever since. Whether it was Ukraine, Russia, Sweden, Palm Beach, New York, Ohio, or right here in SoCal, I was at the field every other Saturday playing paintball.
Chapter 2: Stimulating My Package
Now paintball has turned from the small backwood passtime, to an internationally recognized extreme sport. In fact, paintball is the largest extreme sport in the United States, as well as the only team oriented one. However, with all the notoriety, comes negative aspects. The sport takes on new faces, and with those new faces… Come new ideas. Some are good, some not. With that said, let’s get right to the bad. Do to our wonderful Democratic fathead’s sitting in their ivory towers, our economy has all but evaporated. This has no doubt affected the sport. With less money to spend, less people are buying new products. Even less people are playing all together. Fields are closing do to lack of income to pay property taxes, bills, etc. There’s a bigger picture to it than most think. When a field closes, sure it sucks for us players. However, think of the employees, the managers, the referees, the techs, the clerks, and everyone. They all loose their jobs. Not only are they away from paintball, they are away from stable income. Small stores suffer as well. With eBay, and PBNation, and other Buy, Sell, Trade outlets. The smaller stores are losing money. They don’t have players buying there newer products. This eliminates there main income source, and again, just like the fields. Jobs are lost. Less and less players are playing tournament paintball because it is just too expensive to maintain a steady tournament habit. The average professional paintball player makes the average wage of a taxicab driver. They play the sport out of the simple love of it. Tournament players should know, playing pro is all our dreams, but you can’t make a living out of it. Had this been a different world, we’d be swimming in money. Paintball is labeled as “barbaric”, “immature”, and “unchallenging”. The people who put these statements forward have never set foot on a field, and if they did the met the people mention in the course of the next chapter. I will conclude with this, the economy has no doubt slammed the industry hard. However, bigger companies such as Giant Paintball, need to suck it up, and look out for the players. For if there’s nobody to leech money from, their business will soon be gone as well.
Chapter 3: Paintball On The Runway
We have all heard it, the three letter word that makes me shiver and shovel shank a baby everytime I hear the phrase uttered. What is this magic phrase? I give you… “thats agg”. One word. One single word, has defined an entire paintball sub-culture. HK Nation. A group of people so blatantly obsessed with themselves they are willing to spend more on there sandana’s then some of us do on rent for our apartments. Do not get me wrong, I am all for style in paintball. However, each person should be able to wear what they want. For example, a friend of mine owns a pair of pink JT teams, and a blue PBJunkie sockhat (yes its ancient I know). Everytime we go to the field, he would get laughed at. We would hear the snickers, and ignore it. Simply put, hes comfortable in it. Five or six years ago paintball gear was bought because it was comfortable. Not because it was cool to wear. Honestly, if I wanted to go to a fashion show, I would hit Sunset Blvd, I would have never expected it at the paintball field. HK Nation has defined a chapter in paintball history on their own. However, few people understand what HK actually is. In its truest form, it’s a business. All the profits of which go to fund a team. A noble cause at its core, however, this merchandise has taken on a mind of its own. Keep that in mind next time you make fun or insult somebody because there sandana costs more than their car. Keep in mind this is not a chapter that is meant to bash HK. HK is a noble idea, just like any team, or any small business in paintball. However, a couple of idiots misunderstood what HK really is and blew it out proportion. Unfortunately, tons of people chose to follow those kids, leading us to where we are today.
Chapter 4: Bullshyt Bully’s
We have all seen them. The guys running around, totting there SL94’s. You know, the kids that think just because there gun costs more than the average car payment, they are the hottest **** at the field. The same people that laugh at rentals, and beginners, when they get bunkered. It is people like this that turn younger, and newer players away from paintball. The same kids who overshoot beginners, the same kids who wipe because its fun to cheat, the same kids who are bringing down our sport. When I show up in the morning, nowhere on the waiver does it say “Be prepared for douche bags trying to ruin your day”. I understand, its paintball. **** happens. However, I believe a certain code of ethics should be STRICTLY enforced when at the field. All of which I will outline in the 2nd part of my epic anti-sociological rant. Do you want this to stop? Do something about it. Step up at the field and tell people it is not okay. Have some self-respect, and respect for others. Stick up for the little guy. Be the hero, help someone out. Who knows, that kid with the Spyder, that just got bonusballed, and never wants to play again. He could have been the next Oliver Lang…. Keep that in mind next time you decide a beginner is a good target for a chrono.
Chapter 5: What Do I Do Now?
If you’ve read this far, you must be thinking one of two things. Either “wow he’s full of ****”, in which case toss this op-ed in the nearest river, or garbage can, or even the nearest hobo cart right now. Or if you are one of the few who agree with some if not all the points presented above, please read on. You may be asking “what can I do to help steer us back in the right direction?”. Here are a few simple tricks to make, at least your own paintball experience, more pure, and original. Step one. Step up! Get petitions going to get a code of ethics enforced at your field. Let’s make everyone’s paintball experience more enjoyable. Always, ALWAYS, hold yourself to a higher standard. So you see a stranger whose snake form isn’t as good as it should be. Go over, introduce yourself, ask if he’d like some help in learning. Invite him to play with you. I have friends from all different calibers. Whether it be the friend that shoots a Spyder Sonix, or the friend that plays pro paintball for the Ironmen. I show them all the same respect, curtousey, and good time when they play with me. You should do the same, even for strangers! Step two. Kill your ego. I don’t mean take your $1300 beauty and throw it into a car compacter. I mean, get over yourself. If somebody shows up wearing a shiny pink jumpsuit, show them the same respect you would the kid in the $1300 sandana. Judge people be personality. Not by skill, not by financial stand point, and definitely not by fashion sense! Wear what makes you COMFORTABLE. Not what makes you look cool to other people. Where what you WANT to wear. Not what society wants you to wear. Step three. Support the small guy. Play in leagues run by paintball teams and paintball players. They need the money, and they are the purest, drama free paintball leagues around. They are they because they want YOU to have a good time. The SCPL, the WCPPL, the AFTS series, the NEPL, and the NYPL are all great examples of such leagues. Step four. Buy from smaller shops once in a while. I understand buying a used Ego9 is much cheaper then buying an ultra high-end new paintball gun. However, don’t hit PBN, or ******, or eBay, or even Craigslist for all your purchases. Show some love to your local store. Trust me, even the smallest purchases from pods, to new paintball guns, is all more helpful to them then you think. Step five. Respect each other ON the field. If someone is getting out, who cares what happened between games, last game, or if they are new. Let them out. Don’t let a rope of paint longer then an anaconda fly at them. If you go play with beginners, set your semi to the lowest rate of fire possible, or bring out a mechanical, or even a pump paintball gun. After games, shake hands, congratulate each other. After all, it’s a game! Everyone will walk away with a smile, regardless of who won or lost. Step six. Start a revolution. Do what is in the above 4 steps, eventually others will pick it up. Who knows, we might ignite something here. Maybe a switch will come on in everyone’s mind, and make them realize what THEY need to do to improve the sport as a whole. Never underestimate yourself. Look at Martin Luther King, one man started a whole cultural revolution. Who knows, maybe this article will inspire someone to be the spoken savior of the paintball industry.
Chapter 6: Conclusion
In conclusion, this is the code of ethics I personally follow. You do not have to do anything listed in the article. Nothing will happen. However, if you do, you will be a better person for it, on and off the field. Show respect for yourself, and all those around you. I don’t care if you dislike the article. I went into this knowing most of you would disagree with me, make fun of me, bash me, whatever. I wrote this article for those few of you who TRULEY want to better the sport and not just talk about it. So go ahead, give me feedback, contact me through the Nation, through Myspace, through AIM. Whatever. Have a good one ladies and gentlamen. Remember, play locally… think globally.
Aleksey Kunyavsky Royt firstname.lastname@example.org